Huskies, Heels, early foes
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/11/2000

Before the University of Massachusetts basketball team gets into the meat of its Atlantic 10 schedule, the Minutemen will face a series of non-conference foes before the end of the calendar year. Here's a look at each of them.

Iona

Mascot: Gaels.

Conference: Metro Atlantic

1999-00 Record: 20-11 (NCAA Tournament, first round)

When & Where: Nov. 18, 7 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Dyree Wilson, (jr. forward, 14.6 ppg), Nakiea Miller, (6-9 sr. forward, 13.8 ppg. 7.7 rpg).

Notable: The Gaels will miss Tariq Kirksay, their star guard and leading scorer, but Wilson will be one of the top players in Metro Atlantic.

Head coach Jeff Ruland has high hopes for senior point guard Earl Johnson, a transfer from Rutgers.

Marquette

Mascot: Golden Eagles

Conference: Conference USA

1999-00 Record: 15-14 (NIT, First round)

When & Where: Nov. 20, 7 p.m., Bradley Center, Milwaukee.

Key players: Junior guard Brian Wardle (6-5 sr. guard, 16.6 ppg), Scott Merritt, (6-9 fr. center)

Notable: Wardle is the only double-digit scorer returning for coach Tom Crean, but Merritt will be expected to provide an immediate impact in the middle.

Holy Cross

Mascot: Crusaders

Conference: Patriot

1999-00 Record: 10-18

When & Where: Nov. 25, 1 p.m., at Worcester Centrum

Key players: Josh Sankes (7-1 senior center, 14 ppg, 12 rpg, Tim Szatko (6-7, so. forward, 11.5 ppg)

Notable: Sankes, a Rutgers transfer, should dominate in the size-deficient Patriot League, while several players who were injured last year are expected back.

Szatko was the league's rookie of the year in 1999-2000 and could be part of the Crusaders' move up in the conference.

Oregon

Mascot: Ducks.

Conference: Pacific 10

1999-00 Record: 22-8 (NCAA first round)

When & Where: Dec. 2, 11:30 p.m., at Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.

Key players: Luke Ridnour (6-2 fr. guard, Parade and McDonald's All-American), Bryan Bracey (6-7 senior forward, 8.1 ppg)

Notable: Coach Ernie Kent led the Ducks to a surprising NCAA tournament trip last year, but the Green-and-Yellow lost more than 42 points per game from three departed seniors, and will have to rebuild in the tough Pacific 10.

Ridnour will take over at point guard, and could become one of the best players to suit up for the Ducks in recent years.

Providence

Mascot: Friars

Conference: Big East

1999-00 Record: 11-19.

When & Where: Dec. 7, 7 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Karim Shabazz (7-2 sr. center, 10.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Erron Maxey (6-6 sr. forward, 14.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg).

Notable: Preseason publications don't hold much optimism for the Friars, but the inside combo of Shabazz and Maxey is tough to counteract. If point guard John Linehan, who limped through last year, gets healthy, the Friars could surprise some people.

Ohio State

Mascot: Buckeyes.

Conference: Big 10

1999-00 Record: 23-7 (NCAA second round)

When & Where: Dec. 10, 5 p.m., in Columbus, Ohio

Key player: Ken Johnson (6-11 sr. center, 7.8 ppg, 5.3 bpg)

Notable: The Buckeyes lost their three leading scorers - including star guards Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd - and don't return anybody who averaged in double figures last year. Johnson's ability to improve his offense to match his dynamic shot-blocking ability will be critical for Ohio State's chances to remain competitive. Providence transfer Sean Connolly could provide some offensive relief.

Connecticut

Mascot: Huskies.

Conference: Big East

1999-00 Record: 25-10 (NCAA second round)

When & Where: Dec. 12, 7 p.m., at Hartford Civic Center

Key players: Albert Mouring (6-3, sr. guard 13.9 ppg) Taliek Brown (6-1 fr. guard, McDonald's All-American), Caron Butler (6-7 fr. forward)

Notable: Coach Jim Calhoun has gotten success out of newcomers in the past, and will need to do it again for the Huskies to retain national prominence this year. Brown and Butler, as well as JC transfer Johnnie Selvie, will need to adapt quickly to take the pressure off Mouring.

Boston University

Mascot: Terriers

Conference: America East

1999-00 Record: 7-22

When & Where: Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Boston

Key players: Paul Seymour (6-6 so. forward 12.1 ppg)

Notable: UMass isn't playing Rutgers this year, but three of their opponents feature players who fled New Jersey's State U. BU swingman Billy Collins joins Johnson and Sankes above.

After a miserable season last year, the Terriers expect this year to be a step back toward conference respectability.

Boston College

Mascot: Eagles

Conference: Big East

1999-00 Record: 11-19

When & Where: Dec. 17, 4 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Troy Bell (6-1 so. guard, 18.8 ppg)

Notable: Bell emerged as one of the nation's best newcomers a year ago, but he needs some help. Lack of a rebounding presence leaves Al Skinner's team extremely vulnerable inside. The Eagles are aided by a mostly cake-walk non-conference schedule. They will be gunning to win their first Commonwealth Classic since the event was created during the 1995-96 season.

North Carolina

Mascot: Tar Heels

Conference: ACC

1999-00 Record: 22-14 Final Four

When & Where: Dec. 29, 9 p.m., at Charlotte Coliseum in first round of Hardee's Tournament of Champions

Key players: Joe Forte (6-4 so. guard, 16.7 ppg), Brendan Haywood (7-0 sr. center, 13.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Jason Capel (6-8 jr. G/F, 12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg)

Notable: The Tar Heels are among a small group of teams with a legitimate hope of competing for a national championship.

Replacing departed point guard Ed Cota won't be easy, but freshman Adam Boone is highly touted and will be aided by a veteran lineup around him.

Richmond

Possible opponent in second game at Charlotte.

Mascot: Spiders

Conference: Colonial

1999-00 Record: 18-12

When & Where: Dec. 30, 7/9 p.m. at Charlotte Coliseum (consolation/championship game)

Key players: Greg Stevenson, (6-6 sr. forward, 18.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg)

Notable: The Spiders return all five starters from a good team a year ago. They would be the favorite for the Colonial crown, but the league elected not to let Richmond, which is leaving to join the Atlantic 10, play in the postseason tournament.

College of Charleston

Possible opponent in second game at Charlotte.

Mascot: Cougars

Conference: Southern

1999-00 Record: 24-6

When & Where: Dec. 30, 7/9 p.m. at Charlotte Coliseum (consolation/championship game)

Key players: Jody Lumpkin (6-8 sr. center, 15.1 ppg, 9 rpg), Jeff Bolton (6-3 jr. guard, 15.8 ppg)

Notable: With all five starters back, the Cougars are picked to win their league. Lumpkin burned the Minutemen for 22 points and seven rebounds two season ago as he dominated UMass center Lari Ketner.


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